College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Welcome Prospective and Incoming Students

Link to information for prospective and incoming students



For FAQ and information regarding Western's response to the coronavirus, visit the coronavirus site.

The office of the Department of Linguistics, and the Linguistics Resource and Computer Labs are currently closed. There are many things Kristin Denham and Sara Helms can assist you with by phone or email. They can help with advising, declaring a major or minor, or completing a degree evaluation electronically. 


Read our Racial Justice Statement

Read our Racial Justice Statement HERE

Spring 2020 Newsletter

Western's Department of Linguistics is excited to share our latest newsletter. Check it out HERE.

Photo of cover of newsletter

NWLC 2020

The Department of Linguistics would like to recognize the hard work of our students and alumni who presented at the 2020 Northwest Linguistics Conference, April 25-26. The conference, hosted by the University of Washington, moved to an entirely online format following social distancing guidelines related to the Covid-19 outbreak. Read more about it HERE.


Faculty Spotlight

Western's Dr. Kristin Denham chosen as the LSA's featured member for April 2020.

Read the April 2020 faculty spotlight


Summer 2020

See descriptions of our summer course offerings.

Summer 2020 Linguistics Courses Photo


Linguistics PSAs

Emily Hillman, a linguistics major and one of our Linguistics Faculty Assistants, created a ton of PSAs with inspiration from the students in Language Variation and Change, the Western Talks Project, and other student research. See the PSAs

Photo of Emily Hillman


LSA 2020 Annual Meeting

We have a full crew representing Western at the 2020 Linguistics Society of America Annual Meeting in New Orleans. From left, Dr. Jordan Sandoval, Dr. Kristin Denham, Dr. Emily Curtis, student Calli Hilvitz, and student Abi Freitag.

Calli and Abi were able to attend this year's conference thanks to the support of Western's College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the AS Student Enhancement Fund, and our generous donors. To make a donation to Western's Linguistics Department, visit

Photo of faculty and students at 2020 LSA Meeting


Faculty Spotlight

"For decades, WWU Linguist Ed Vajda argued Native Americans are linked by language to Central Asia. But can historical linguistics build a case to convince the scientific community?"  - From the Window article "Linguistic Sleuth," by John Thompson.

Read the article.

Photo of Dr. Edward Vajda


Faculty Spotlight

Western's Dr. Jordan Sandoval (right) poses with Arizona State University colleague Dr. Amy LaCross at the 178th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in San Diego, Dec. 2019. Sandoval and LaCross shared their research, along with ASU's Dr. Julie Liss. Their project was titled, "Influence of word size and tonal sequence probability on Mandarin well-formedness judgments."

Dr. Jordan Sandoval and Dr. Amy LaCross presenting their research at an academic conference.


Linguistics Internship Opportunity

Volunteer at the Whatcom Literacy Council. Learn more about it HERE

Poster for WLC Internship.


Western meets Brčko, the only self-governing, free city in Europe  

The students of LING 402: Language and Society: Language(s) of the Balkans, taught by Fulbright Visiting Professor Marija Runić, Ph.D., from Bosnia and Herzegovina, participated in an online class with high school students from ‘Poliglota’ Language Institute of Brčko, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Brčko is the seat of Brčko District, a self-governing administrative unit, that has become a symbol of multiethnic coexistence in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina. The students discussed their life on campus and in school, the education system in the two countries, and other topics of their interest. The Bosnian students had the chance to speak to native speakers of English for the first time.

 Photo of students in Brčko posing while on Skype with students from Western 

High school students from Brčko pose while video chatting with linguistics students at Western, fall 2019. Photo courtesy of Marija Runic.


Western Washington University

Department of Linguistics

See our Mission Statement

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. There are many ways to pursue the study of language, and as in any scientific discipline, researchers have varied goals, distinct questions to pose, and different directions of research.  Some linguists study the grammar, or rule system, of language, and others are more interested in the social factors, such as gender, age, ethnicity and other variables, that influence how we use language. Still others study how languages change over time, how children acquire language, or how our brains process and produce language. Communication in today’s complex society requires knowledge of the workings of language in general and of specific languages as well as their interrelationship with their respective cultures. All Linguistics majors are expected to acquire knowledge of the workings of language at various levels and demonstrate data analysis and other methodological techniques used to study language. A student of linguistics will thereby significantly advance their understanding of linguistic and cultural diversity and will have the tools to work in and across disciplines to explore questions related to language, and to therefore understand and advance what it means to be human.



Linguistics Outstanding Graduates
Photo of Kailey HegedusKailey Hegedus, Outstanding Graduate, 2018
“Upon my arrival to Western, I was immediately drawn to the Linguistics Program having always had a love for studying languages. The professors and the corresponding classes they taught within this program were insightful and engaging, resulting in my staying and seeing Linguistics through as a major. Since graduating, I have not only been able to apply what I learned from this program in my own personal endeavours with learning new languages, but have also been able to apply it to my students' language acquisition in teaching them English as their second language.”
Photo of Jeff GuptilJeff Guptil, Outstanding Graduate, 2017
“I came to Western knowing I would major in Linguistics, and wasn’t disappointed. The program is rigorous, stacked with dedicated peers and faculty, and has been overwhelmingly applicable to daily life.  I seamlessly transitioned to grad school and work after graduation, and continue to see the returns on my education. I actually continued some of the work I started at Western in grammaticalization, and more recently have been exploring the changes to lol at the phonetic and phonological level. Both of these pursuits would not be possible without the academic tools and warm mentorship I received while at Western. The personal connections I developed, and the culture of this program and Western at large I value immensely. If I could hit repeat on my experience, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”
Photo of Neal DigreNeal Digre, Outstanding Graduate, 2016
“I honestly cannot see myself where I am, or especially where I am going, without the strong academic foundation, personal strengths and connections, and love of languages that I developed as a member of Western's Linguistics Program. Learning how to approach problems, design experiments, analyze hypotheses rigorously, and explain results clearly are all skills that I acquired as a linguistics student at Western and have helped me succeed in a master's degree in Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.”
Photo of Lauren GageLauren Gage, Outstanding Graduate, 2015
“Certainly my experiences being a linguistics tutor and getting as involved as I could in all things linguistic that Western had to offer really helped me to develop my leadership skills in language-based environments and beyond! I was lucky to be able to take an NLP class, as it proved instrumental in getting me into my Master's and my first real job. Even though I couldn't code, having the exposure and gaining some understanding of how linguistics can play a role in advancing technology has been a huge benefit to post-Western life. 
The breadth of the curriculum also gave me a lot of options in terms of a next degree.”
Photo of Lisa BrisboisLisa Brisbois, Outstanding Graduate, 2014
“Since graduating with my linguistics degree from WWU, I have been able to explore language in a variety of contexts.  From teaching English in Western’s IEP program to mentoring TESOL students as they complete their certifications here on campus, I have been able to delve into Second Language Acquisition in very interesting ways.  In graduate school, I focused my research in Second Language Acquisition.  Additionally, I have been fortunate enough to continue to explore the Spokane Salish language at the cultural level, which has reawakened my thirst for learning more about Salish languages.”

“It’s the best possible combination of fields – math, cognitive science, formal logic, anthropology, etc. It’s impossible to get bored and there’s always something to learn.”



Contact Information

Mailing Address

Linguistics Department

Western Washington University

516 High Street, MS 9190

Bellingham, WA 98225

Location: Bond Hall 418

Phone: 360-650-3914

Fax: 360-650-2399